Article: DOJ Casts the FCPA Spotlight on Brazil-Related Enforcement

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DOJ Casts the FCPA Spotlight on Brazil-Related Enforcement

Kevin Roberts, Lex Urban, Duncan Grieve, Stephen Weiss, 12 June 2021

On May 25, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) unsealed an indictment charging two Austrian citizens, Peter Weinzierl (“Weinzierl”) and Alexander Waldstein (“Waldstein”), for their roles in a scheme to launder hundreds of millions of dollars through the U.S. financial system on behalf of the Brazilian construction conglomerate, Odebrecht S.A. (“Odebrecht”). The indictment alleges that Weinzierl and Waldstein helped Odebrecht funnel money to offshore accounts to pay bribes to government officials in Brazil, Panama, and Mexico. The announcement was timed to coincide with the arrest of Weinzierl in the United Kingdom; however, Waldstein remains at large.

This enforcement action is notable for a number of reasons:

(1) DOJ has used U.S. money laundering statutes to charge Weinzierl and Waldstein with bribery-related misconduct because both individuals likely fall outside of the ambit of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”);

(2) it heralds a widely anticipated uptick in anti-corruption and anti-money laundering enforcement demanded by the Biden administration;

(3) it highlights continued focus on Latin America and Brazil in particular as a target of anti-corruption and anti-money laundering enforcement; and

(4) Weinzierl’s arrest by the UK authorities at the request of their U.S. counterparts underlines ongoing close cooperation between the two jurisdictions.

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